Solomon Lake is one of five acts playing The Waterfront in Norwich on Sunday 19 May for Unsigned. We spoke to him ahead of the gig about his difficult journey to the stage.
Can you tell me about yourself?
I was born and raised in Manchester, but moved to Norwich when I was 14. I’m studying American studies at university. It gives me an academic route but then I can do music in my spare time so I’ve got two options. Music is the plan, hopefully, fingers crossed.
How long have you been performing?
Playing guitar five years, performing and singing three years.
Why the gap?
Growing up I was hearing impaired. In the first couple of years of my life I had continuous ear infections and because they were so frequent they permanently perforated both my eardrums, I lost 50% hearing in both ears. I had a lot of surgery. My hearing improved when I was 17. It was then that I discovered a love for singing. I could hear myself and tell when I was singing properly and when I wasn’t.
Everything must have changed for you?
It probably took a year, year-and-a-half to properly get to grips with how much louder everything was. I remember in the first week I was really in shock. Even the slightest noise I would be like “whoa, what was that?”
What style of music do you play?
My style is probably a combination of pop and folk with Spanish pop and Latin American pop having an influence as well. I play acoustic guitar, piano and the other instruments you can hear on the track.
Where have you performed?
I usually play open mic nights, just me and my guitar. I also do musical theatre so I’ve done a few showcases and shows. So this is probably the biggest solo opportunity I’ve had the fortune to play. The Waterfront is a step up.
You’ve seen gigs at The Waterfront, in a few weeks that’s going to be you. How are the nerves?
Mainly excitement. Seeing the posters with my name on "it’s like okay; it’s real now". Working with Millie has really improved my confidence, my set and my songs.
How are the sessions at The Garage going?
Really, really well. I’m enjoying them, learning lots. One thing we’ve looked at is warm-ups, strengthening my falsetto, switching between the two. Apart from that, it’s confidence. Before there were a couple of songs I thought ‘yeah, they’re alright, they’re just average songs’. Working with Millie, I really like playing them now.
Original songs, few covers?
It depends on where I’m playing, how I’m feeling on the night. Usually I play a mix of two originals and one cover maybe.
Why apply for Unsigned?
I took part in the musicians development programme at The Garage last year and that was really helpful. So the chance to come back and have one on one mentoring… I applied as it was a fantastic opportunity to develop my live performing, as well as meet other talented artists.
Looking forward to the gig?
Yeah. I’ve invited a few friends. A few people are coming from university, my girlfriend’s coming from university; it’s the biggest thing I’ve done. It’s really exciting. I can’t wait.
The Garage, Young Norfolk Arts Festival, Norfolk Music Hub and Youth Music is hosting the night, which will also feature performances by Bridget Holmes, Hannah Birtwell, Leon O'Leary and The Renadeans.
In the run-up to the gig, each will get private tutoring from Millie Manders, the chance to record a demo in a professional studio and have their very own photoshoot.
Millie said: “The sessions I have been involved with have all been to develop the acts to not only get them ready for the showcase, but to give them tools for becoming successful musicians in the future.”
The Unsigned project was created to provide young musicians with the opportunity to take their music, performance and professional skills to the next level.
It gives them valuable, focused training time with experienced professional music artist Millie, who helps them improve their artistry alongside music career mentoring and marketing advice tailored especially to them.
The young musicians will be provided with video captured from their performance to help promote themselves.
Carrie Mansfield, Creative Director at The Garage, said: “We’re so pleased to have teamed up with The Norfolk Music Hub, The Young Norfolk Arts Trust and Youth Music to provide this exciting opportunity for young musicians.
“Our work is all about supporting and encouraging young people to believe in themselves and their talents - this project does just that and has been a real success. I have heard them all rehearsing in our music room with Millie over the last few months and can’t wait to see them on the stage.”